Meet Claudine, our head seamstress from Rwanda! As you can tell, she has a light in her that shines so brightly it touches everyone she meets. She is quick to laugh, smile and state her opinion, which we welcome whole-heartedly. It’s no secret her joy is absolutely unadulterated! However, Claudine is living proof of the notion to have joy amidst any circumstance.
Like many Rwandan children, Claudine grew up in a single-parent household. And also like many Rwandan children, her father’s murder was a result of the horrific genocide of 1994. The genocide cost over 800,000 people their lives. It displaced over 2 million people. And over 500,000 women and girls were documented as raped and tortured during this timeframe. The country has been re-building and restructuring many of it’s policies and systems ever since. While there has been remarkable resiliency and progress in the last 20+ years, deep-rooted issues keep it from advancing in a healthy manner.
Due to her father’s death, Claudine had to quit school so she could help her mother provider for their family. She was just 14 years old. This did however allow Claudine’s two younger siblings to attend school, to which Claudine is still grateful for. There wasn’t even a decision to be made, she exclaimed. It was her responsibility as the oldest to do this for her family.
Without an education to fall back on, Claudine needed to be taught a skill or handicraft that could earn her a sustainable income. Fortunately, Claudine was sponsored by Compassion International to be put through sewing school. Compassion International is an incredible organization that runs child development programs and ministries all over the world. Let me give you some of their statistics from their annual report to help explain what renowned and impactful work they’re apart of:
Needless to say, Claudine jumped at the opportunity to learn to sew. She thrived in this environment, soaking up all she could through her courses. In fact, she became so talented that she went on to teach sewing to other women at another sponsorship organization you have heard of called, Africa New Life. This is an organization founded and run by a local Rwanda, named Charles Mugisha. This is where she met Sharon who runs the sewing center she works at currently to make Trove’s custom made pieces.
Claudine is newly married and is settling into her new roles as wife and head seamstress. She is excited about the potential Trove has and wants to continue mastering different and varying sewing techniques. We are currently looking into helping her get a finishing machine that will allow her to put on buttons and clasps and more detailed closures on garments.
We couldn’t be more grateful to work with such a talented and resilient human as Claudine. She is an inspiration for us all to look to in rising above our own circumstances, no matter how big or small. She is a beacon of light to us and to those around her, serving as a constant reminder that your attitude and aptitude for learning new things has the ability to truly change your life.